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Digital Marketing

What marketing channels are you using (or not using)?

by Karen Van Ert
I’m a consultant, and I focus heavily on marketing initiatives, so that’s typically where conversations I’m involved in migrate. I also like to think of myself as channel agnostic, which seems to be rare in on-line marketing circles. I’m not easily surprised anymore because I’ve seen so many businesses metrics, but I am still caught off guard at the emotional response certain channels evoke in people and how that emotion often blinds them to the opportunities they’re missing because of it. The hardest part of my job is convincing people that [channel type] is not [negative adjective] and that in reality, when done right, it’s the correct combination of channels that makes a business successful.
If you’re in business and have an eCommerce site, there are channels you simply have to be using. In my humble opinion, top of the list should be SEO, second in line is email, and third should be paid search, and then depending upon your business model, everything else can be debated. If you’re using these three channels, and doing them well, and I mean really well, congratulations. Most organizations aren’t.
No one ever argues about the importance of a good SEO program, yet most organizations are not willing to adequately fund one. If you’re not spending a good portion of your marketing budget on SEO, you should flip that switch today. Without a hearty portion of your traffic and revenue coming in organically, your overall profit margins are going to suffer and you’re not going to have the money needed to thoroughly utilize other channels.
However, you also shouldn’t rely entirely on SEO for traffic because there’s a chance you’ll be penalized at some point by Google or drop in rank and if you don’t have a paid program built and running smoothly; you’ll find your business significantly deleveraged as top line revenue takes a hit. I’m not saying you need to pour a ton of money into paid search, in fact, I’d argue you need to move slowly making certain your ROI is what you need it to be, so you can continue to invest in a paid search program. But, I would argue that Paid Search supports an SEO program, and can do so at a reasonable cost.
For many reasons, paid search has a terrible rap, and I have heard enough stories to understand why, but people have to get over it and realize that it’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to increase market share, and when done right, is a great addition to a marketing program. When a paid search program fails, it’s usually because goals were not clearly outlined upfront.
Last, but not least (as I said, second in my mind) is email. Everybody in online retail for the long haul should be focused on email. It’s not old, it’s not dead, it’s single-handedly your best bet at creating a long-term relationship with your customer base. You’ve worked your tail off optimizing your site for organic traffic (or you should be) or you’ve paid $.xx from a paid search link to drive that consumer to you, and if you’re lucky, a purchase was made. Why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to get them to come back again and again without incurring the same cost per conversion? An email program done right is basically a loyalty program. You just need to figure out what your hook is.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t articulate a clear performance difference between an easy batch and blast program versus the less easy, but still not rocket science, segmented email program methodology. You’ll still see solid ROI with a batch and blast email program, but if you’re willing to spend a little more upfront time developing a strategy, building out templates and linking your email program to your eCommerce system, you’ll double it.
Good luck! And take it easy on Paid Search. I swear, you’ll come to love it if you give it an honest shot.

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